Parable

Phillips, Carl

There was a saint once,

he had but to ring across

water a small bell, all

manner of fish

rose, as answer, he was

that holy, persuasive,

both, or the fish

perhaps merely

hungry, their bodies

a-shimmer with

that hope especially that

hunger brings, whatever

the reason, the fish

coming unassigned, in

schools coming

into the saint’s hand and,

instead of getting,

becoming food.

I have thought, since, of

your body-as I first came

to know it, how it still

can be, with mine,

sometimes. I think on

that immediate and last gesture

of the fish leaving water

for flesh, for guarantee

they will die, and I cannot

rest on what to call it.

Not generosity, or

a blindness, trust, brute

stupidity. Not the soul

distracted from its natural

prayer, which is attention,

for in the story they are

paying attention. They

lose themselves eyes open.

Copyright New England Review Summer 1998

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